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May 20, 2013 - Phoenix Rises

Phoenix Rises The Phoenix spacecraft made an unprecedented landing in the Martian polar region five years ago this week. Aptly named, Phoenix rose from the ashes of previously canceled or ill-fated missions. The lander itself was based on the Mars Surveyor 2001 spacecraft, which was canceled in 2000 but had been kept in clean storage since then. Other instruments on Phoenix were upgrades of equipment first built for the Mars Polar Lander, which presumably crashed on Mars in 1999. Phoenix landed at nearly 70° north latitude, in an area of Mars rich in subsurface water ice, which quickly sublimated (transformed to vapor) after being exposed by Phoenix’s robot arm. Seen here above Phoenix’s solar panel, its robotic arm delivers a soil sample to be analyzed by an onboard microscope.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona / Texas A&M University

Weekly Calendar

May 20-26, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 20

Victoria Day (Canada)

Mercury 7° north of Aldebaran

1978: Pioneer-Venus 1 launched
1995: Spektr module launched to Mir space station

Tuesday 21

2010: IKAROS spacecraft launched; first successful solar-sail propulsion

Wednesday 22

Spica 0.005° south of Moon

1969: Apollo 10 lunar module descends to within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface
2012: Dragon C2+ spacecraft launched, first commercial mission to dock with ISS

Thursday 23

Saturn 4° north of Moon

1984: NASA selects 10th astronaut group

Friday 24

1962: Aurora 7 launched

Moon phase Saturday 25

Full Moon 12:25 AM ET
Moon at perigee
Mercury 1.4° north of Venus

1961: JFK challenges nation to Moon landing before end of decade
1965: Saturn SA-8 launched
1966: Roll-out of first full-scale Saturn V
1973: Skylab 2 begins 28-day mission
2008: Phoenix lander lands on Mars

Moon phase Sunday 26

Trinity Sunday

1951Sally Ride born

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